In principle, fees have to be paid when starting a case through the courts. Unlike for legal fees, Legal Aid is not available for any court fees. However, if you have no savings, or only a small amount, or receive certain types of benefits, or are on a low income, you might qualify for help with fees. This is known as fee remission.
In some cases, a fee remission will cover all the amount of the fees for the application you are making, meaning you have nothing to pay, or it might reduce the amount you have to pay.
This article will explain how the scheme works for reducing the amount of court fees for people on lower incomes, or those with not much money in savings or investments, how to see if you qualify, and if you do, how to apply for help with fees.
How help with fees works
Whether you qualify for help with fees depends mainly on what your income is and how much you have in savings or investments.
If you are single and your gross monthly income – i.e., before tax and national insurance is taken off – is more than £5,170 plus an extra £263 for every child under 18 you have, you definitely will not qualify for any help with fees.
If you are part of a couple and your joint gross monthly income – i.e., before tax and national insurance is taken off – is more than £5,345 plus an extra £263 for every child under 18 you have, you definitely will not qualify for any help with fees.
And if you have savings or investments of more than £16,000, you definitely will not qualify.
In all other cases, you might qualify. It depends on your exact circumstances and how much the fees are for the court application you are making.
The contributions calculator
There is a helpful quick calculator on the UK government website at which will indicate if there can be any remission of your fees. You simply put in your gross monthly income, the number of children you have and it will tell you the maximum amount of fees you will have to pay. So, for example, if you are single, your gross monthly income is £3,000 and you have one child, the calculator will tell you that the maximum contribution to the fee that you would pay would be £780.
You then have to take your savings into account, or Disposable Capital Threshold as it’s called on the calculator. So, if the amount of the court fees for the application you want to make is £1,200, the table in the calculator tells you that the maximum amount of savings you can have to qualify for fee remission is £4,000. So, if your total savings are £2,000, you will be able to get help with fees. The calculator showed you in the example above that the maximum contribution to the fee would be £780. Therefore, instead of £1,200, you would pay £420 less for your application.
But, if the court fees for your application would be £600, you would have to pay the full amount because the fees are less than the maximum amount you have to pay.
Completing the EX160
If the contributions calculator shows that you might qualify, you have to complete an application form EX160. You need to send this form to the court along with the form for the application you are making. The court will then be in touch with you to confirm the amount of fees you have to pay, or whether they need any more information from you.
Sometimes court processes need several different hearings or stages, and a fee is payable for each one of them. You have to complete a separate form EX160 for each separate hearing or stage of the process.
There are five pages to the form, and there are helpful notes on the form to give you some help on the various sections.
This page asks for your personal details and details about the application you are making. Your National Insurance number, or Home Office reference number if you have one instead of a National Insurance number, are important.
This page asks you if the fee is for Probate (i.e., dealing with the property of someone who has died), whether you have already paid the fee and are applying for a refund, and your savings.
Some questions – e.g., Question 7 – tell you to go straight to a certain question if you tick the box. That means that you can skip some questions that will not apply to you.
You are asked here on page 3 whether you receive certain types of benefits and whether you have children living with you or that you pay maintenance for.
If you tick to say that you receive any of the benefits listed, the court will contact the Department for Works and Pensions to confirm that you were receiving these benefits. This will mean you probably will qualify for help with fees.
Page 4 asks you for details of last month’s gross income, i.e., before tax and national insurance were taken off. This is income for the last month, so if you get paid every week or every two weeks, you will have to add your wage slips together to give the total amount for the last month.
You also have to include your partner’s income if you are part of a couple.
If you said on page 3 that you get certain benefits, you do not have to complete this section.
You have to put your contact details in the final page and, as with all court forms, sign a statement of truth.
Under certain circumstances, you might qualify for help with court fees. Whether you qualify or not depends on how much income you (and your partner if you have one) receive each month and how much you have in savings. If you qualify for help, this is sometimes called fee remission and can reduce the amount of fees you have to pay for this application, sometimes so that you pay no fees at all.
Mediation is an effective way of resolving many issues that could be the subject of a court application. Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 0113 468 9593 to find out how we can help you – and even sometimes avoid the need for time-consuming, stressful and expensive court proceedings.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 0113 468 9593 to find out how we can help you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Help with Fees the same as Legal Aid?
They are not quite the same. Court fees are not covered by Legal Aid, but the fee remission system is a similar way of making sure that people on low incomes have access to the justice system.
I get benefits. Do I automatically qualify?
If you get certain benefits such as Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Income Allowance among others, you will probably qualify. The court will check your situation with the Department of Works and Pensions if you have said that you get these types of benefits.
If I have a low income but some savings, do I have to pay?
You might still qualify for help with fees if your savings are less than £16,000. If your savings are over this level, you will not qualify.
I’ve already paid a fee for my court application, but I think I might qualify for help with the fees. Can I get a refund of what I paid?
If you have paid a fee within the last 3 months and think you qualify for a fee remission, you can apply for a refund. You have to answer all questions about your income and savings showing the figures at the time you paid the fee and not at the time you are applying for the refund and give proof of the amount you paid.
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